Need to hand sew a zipper onto heavy canvas

My car has a canvas top and the the zipper for the rear window
completely ripped out. I would like to sew it back on by hand, but I
am not very good at sewing. So I thought I'd better ask for some
advice before attempting this repair.
What kind of thread and needle should I use? Anything else that would
make this chore go more smoothly? I've already received a few
suggestions on what to use for thread. They are:
dental floss
waxed carpet thread
the kind of thread used to repair sails
Using dental floss as thread sounds kind of crazy, but I am tempted to
try it. It should be rather strong, and I have a long roll of waxed
dental floss that I'll never use (unwaxed floss works better for
cleaning between teeth). I am not sure how well it would hold up to
sunlight, though.
BTW, I wouldn't normally try to sew heavy canvas by hand-- it would be
sheer torture. Or, at the very least, not much fun. Fortunately, the
holes in the canvas from the previous stiching are clearly visible. So
I think that, with plenty of patience, it should be doable.
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Years and years ago we had a rectangular trampoline and the stitching that held the webbing straps (which held the triangular rings connected to the springs) all ripped out. As a family project we hand-sewed it back into place. IIRC we used a heavy cotton thread and beeswax. And big curved needles, rubber grips to pull through the holes, and some sort of thimble-like item. (The top of the thread spool worked pretty well.) ...
Not like there's much choice; car won't fit through the feed dogs!
--Karen D.
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For stuff like that I use my "Speedy Stitcher". Do a Google; they're all over the place for about $10. They come with heavy waxed polyester thread. I use waxed linen thread a lot too, and it stands up to the UV well. JPBill
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Dental floss is highly overrated for sewing - for an outdoor application it's a poor choice. Since it's nylon, it will have poor UV resistance. Use a good, strong polyester thread instead.
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Michael Daly
dental floss is actually quite good, both in strength and sun resistence. Rather expensive though. Usually not used unless sun resistence is a huge factor AND you only need a few yards of thread. Otherwise, genuine Gore-Tex thread on spools is cheaper.
I suggest you go to and search for a sailor's palm, seriously heavy hand stitching thread, an awl (and a mallet from your local hardware store), maybe a heavy set of pliers and have at it. You can stitch serious canvas by hand though it will be an effort.
Reply to
Thanks for all the suggestions. For this particular job, I think the Speedy Stitcher sounds like just the right tool. The price is right, too. So tomorrow I'll be heading off to the local REI to purchase one. And a small spool of heavy-duty thread, too.
Reply to
Excellent decision! I've used mine (same one!) since 1951 to repair golf and other bags, footwear, tarps, tents, windows in convertibles, belts, knapsacks and numerous repairs on other gear in the field when camping and backpacking. JPBill
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